Georgia v. WilkinsAnnotate this Case
The State appealed a trial court’s order granting Nathaniel Wilkins’ pretrial motion in limine to exclude incriminating statements made by his co-defendant Michael Jones with regard to a 2013 double murder. Wilkins and Jones were indicted by grand jury for malice murder, felony murder, and aggravated assault arising from the execution-style shootings of Forrest Ison and Alice Stevens at their home in Thunderbolt, Georgia. Jones’ case was severed from that of Wilkins, and he was tried in April 2016 and found guilty on all counts. Most of the statements complained of here were admitted into evidence at Jones’ trial. The State expected the evidence to show that Wilkins, Jones, and Tracy Burgess, the driver of the getaway car, attempted to avoid arrest after the murders by hiding in the homes of friends and family members in Georgia and South Carolina. During that time, Jones allegedly made a number of incriminating statements to witnesses. The trial court held that some of the statements, while made by a co-conspirator, were not made “in furtherance of the conspiracy” and thus did not fall within the exception to the hearsay rule provided by OCGA 24-8-801 (d) (2) (E). Because the trial court did not abuse its discretion in so doing, the Georgia Supreme Court affirmed.